Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates
Released: July 7, 2009
Series: Newbury & Hobbes #1
Source: Personal shelf
Reviewed by: Jenn
Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists.
But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side.
Queen Victoria is kept alive by a primitive life-support system, while her agents, Sir Maurice Newbury and his delectable assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes, do battle with enemies of the crown, physical and supernatural. This time Newbury and Hobbes are called to investigate the wreckage of a crashed airship and its missing automaton pilot, while attempting to solve a string of strangulations attributed to a mysterious glowing policeman, and dealing with a zombie plague that is ravaging the slums of the capital.
Get ready to follow dazzling young writer George Mann to a London unlike any you’ve ever seen and into an adventure you will never forget…
I picked up The Affinity Bridge and its sequel, The Osiris Ritual, on a bookcloseouts.ca sale a while back. I had no idea what to expect, having never read George Mann before, but the premise--a classic mystery with a steampunk twist--was just too delicious to resist.
In some ways, The Affinity Bridge took me back to my Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie days. (I used to devour their work on virtually a daily basis.) The tone is quite similar, particularly to the Sherlock Holmes stories, which is a definite plus in my mind. And the two main problems before Newbury and Veronica--the airship crash and the murders in Whitechapel--positively reek of classic mystery. Again, a good thing. What sets The Affinity Bridge apart from these classic tales is the fact that it's set in a steampunk Victorian London, where automatons are the new hip thing and airship travel is au courant as well. George Mann has done a wonderful job of marrying the two ideas and The Affinity Bridge is a delightful adventure for the readers (though not so much for poor Newbury, who gets rather battered).
Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes are an excellent pair. They're both incredibly capable, smart people who are also forward-thinking, though Veronica is slower to embrace some of the technological advancement. In The Affinity Bridge, they've only recently started working together, so the reader gets to watch them learn each other, which is always delightful. Veronica seems a little taken with Newbury so it'll be interesting to see whether their relationship remains strictly professional in future books.
I was also fascinated by Veronica's sister, Amelia, who's been institutionalized because of her ability to see the future. When Amelia was first introduced, I was a little surprised since this was the first mention of these types of powers existing in this world but I'm curious to see what happens with Amelia in other stories (if she shows up at all). Of course, I don't know why I was so surprised by Amelia's gift since there are elements of the super/preternatural in The Affinity Bridge, primarily the presence of zombies, or revenants as they are called in the book. Don't worry, this isn't a spoiler -- the first chapter is all about a zombie attack in India!
I'm very happy that I have The Osiris Ritual sitting in my TBR pile as I thoroughly enjoyed The Affinity Bridge. It was a lot of fun to read, and I really liked getting to know Newbury and Hobbes. There are some fantastic little moments in the book, particularly towards the end, that have made me quite curious about where George Mann will take them next.